Mexico's 'City of the Gods' reopens to tourists after five-month lockdown

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By Katy Dartford  with AFP AP
Mexico's archaeological site of Teotihuacan reopens amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Mexico's archaeological site of Teotihuacan reopens amid the COVID-19 pandemic   -   Copyright  CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP or licensors

The huge temples and pyramids of Teotihuacan reopened to visitors on Thursday, more than five months after closing in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Teotihuacan, located about 50 km northeast of Mexico City, was once the largest city in the Americas.

Known as "The City of the Gods" the UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the country's most popular spots for tourists from around the world.

"I'm lucky to be here after such a long period of closure. I feel lucky." Spanish tourist Paul Rallo told AFP.

Chinese tourist, Hongshun Tang was glad he could make a last-minute change of plan and come to Mexico.

"Actually, I was applying to go to Egypt. Because of the Covid, the same day I couldn´t fly to Egypt, so I bought the ticket to come here instead," he told AFP.

Only 3,000 people a day are allowed to visit the main archeological zone and a trickle of tourists could be seen on Thursday morning along the ancient city’s main thoroughfare, the so-called Avenue of the Dead.

But visitors are not allowed to scale the Pyramids of the Sun or Moon, which used to draw tens of thousands of visitors for the Spring and Fall equinoxes each year.

CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP or licensors
Tourists at the archaeological site of TeotihuacanCLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP or licensors

Omar Gonzalez who was at the opening of Teotihuacan with his wife and three children said they had been looking forward to the trip since last year.

"We had this trip scheduled since last year. We had the tourist package and everything else, but unfortunately, due to the contingency, we had to postpone it until now" Mexican Tourist Omar Gonzalez told AP.

Other Mayan ruins like Tulum and Cobá are due to reopen on Monday and Chichen Itza later this month.

But the staggered opening times for archaeological sites across the country have proved confusing for some visitors.

"I looked up on the internet what places are open, the most emblematic places in this zone, and I found out that they open today, but it wasn't all that easy, because each place opens a different day." Spanish Tourist Mateo Garrosh told AP.

The few hundred visitors who will be allowed into most sites must line up for limited tickets, get their temperatures checked, wear face masks, get a dose of hand sanitizing gel and stay around 1.5 meters from each other.

Admission will be limited to just 30% of the sites' capacities.

Teotihuacan was perhaps the most important and influential city in the region during its apex between 100 B.C. and A.D. 750 when it had about 100,000 residents.

The city was abandoned long before the rise of the Aztecs in the 14th century.